The Ghost Road

Below, my latest piece in Guardian Comment, on education’s growing culture of overwork, and how it is affecting children and parents.

Do you know a ghost child? Are you possibly raising one? A report this week by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) pinpoints a worrying new phenomenon – the institutionalised infant, a whey-faced creature, stuck in school for 10 hours a day, the child of commuting parents possibly, wandering from playground to desk to after-school club without real purpose, nodding off through boredom and fatigue.

The sad thing is, as yet another timely ATL report brings home, the ghost child is increasingly likely to be taught by the ghost adult – a teacher grey with fatigue and stress, stuck at school for 10 hours or more a day, wandering from duty to duty in playground, classroom or after-school club. Both, it seems, are part of a culture that increasingly overworks our citizens, from a younger and younger age, in the often fruitless quest for job security and social mobility.

Read the rest of the article here.

6 Responses to The Ghost Road

  1. Congratulations on the breath of fresh air you bring to the debate on education. It’s not really about schools or teachers at all ..or even about what is actually taught.

    Because helping a toddler to become a happy confident loving and useful adult is so vague a concept, it CAN be an area of dreams and wishful thinking, which is always easily challenged and held to account by the specifics of targets, measured outcomes and – yes, the need to “park” the infant outside home for perhaps 90-95% of its waking hours.

    Home should be where you live, not just where you sleep.

    Keep plugging away!

    • THanks Chris and I so agree with what you say – that creating a happy and useful human being is not measurable by targets and outcomes but a deep and subtle process that takes many years and much care and creativity. Of course, much of that must be down to personal relations/families but schools ( and work) should help people to fulfil themselves not put endless obstacles in their way and rob us all of that most precious resource of all – time! And time to be with each other.

    • Peta, the work of your unit looks really interesting. Can you send me any articles that have been written about your work? Would like to read more – with a view to visiting some of your projects, and possibly writing about them. Melissa. I will e-mail you my e-mail address.

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